It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just

This is from the first part of Sol LeWitt's letter to Eva Hesse. I couldn't find the meaning of numbling in any dictionaries. Is it a kind of wordplay? If so, what does it mean?

  • Where have you looked? I can't find a reference in a prestigious reference, but UD offers a definition. Probably non-standard. Nov 19, 2020 at 16:50
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    For that matter, does anyone know the definition of "scumbling" in that quote? I'd guess it's just wordplay.
    – Jurp
    Nov 19, 2020 at 16:51
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    @Jurp - My sister went to art college so I know the word "scumbling". It's a painting technique Nov 19, 2020 at 16:59
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    Is it a kind of wordplay???!!! Nov 19, 2020 at 17:38
  • @chasly-supportsMonica - Thanks! This is why I like the stacks - learn something new every day :)
    – Jurp
    Nov 19, 2020 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


This seems simply to be a misreading of handwriting. Every word has a meaning. Even scumbling is not a nonsense word.

Extract of handwritten letter

The first letter of both those words could be an r which would make rambling preceded by rumbling. In fact, to make the first three letters on that line num seems not to be possible as there are not enough strokes for it.

Rumbling seems far more likely. It doesn't appear anywhere else in that paragraph, and provides a neat bridge between stumbling (and all the other -umbling words) and rambling.

(The extract of the handwritten letter comes from the OP reference on lettersofnote.com)

  • 1
    Those first letters do look the same. By Jove, I think you've got it! Nov 19, 2020 at 17:06

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